The judge presiding over the drunken-driving preliminary hearing of Sean Owen O’Neill Jr., who accidentally killed his best friend during a 2006 underage drinking party, had heard enough.
Not only had the 22-year-old Glen Mills resident allegedly driven drunk and crashed into a Chester County garage on Thanksgiving, but he was also on bail for allegedly engaging in open lewdness and a license-plate theft outside a Chadds Ford bar a year ago. Magisterial District Judge William D. Kraut set bail at $10,000 cash, despite the objections of Vincent DiFabio, O’Neill’s longtime attorney. Trying to get the judge to change his mind, DiFabio said his client always shows up for court appearances.
“Mr. O’Neill seems to be making a habit of appearing in courts,” the judge responded, adding that bail is also designed to protect the community. DiFabio said O’Neill would agree to additional restrictions, such as surrendering his license, if the judge would permit him to post 10 percent of the amount. But Kraut was unmoved, especially after Assistant District Attorney Marilyn Seide pointed out that O’Neill’s license is likely to be suspended, anyway, “so he’s not giving anything up.”
The judge, who suggested that DiFabio file a petition and take his argument to Chester County Court, agreed to give O’Neill some time to try and come up with the money. A few hours later, O'Neill was released after using a bail bonds agency. O’Neill, who waived the hearing, faces one fewer charge: leaving the scene of an accident. Seide said although witnesses said O’Neill appeared to be trying to flee, he was not successful. Seide said “after speaking with the witnesses and evaluating the facts and the law," her office felt the fleeing charge should be withdrawn. For more information on the hearing, see http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120308_Scion_of_troubled_family_back_in_court_on_DUI_charge.html